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To Jim from the River

       Jim Harrison 1937-2016


Still floating on the current,
this last stretch before the sea,

like so many we fished together
through what seemed an endless river

of summer afternoons—this one
as familiar as it isn't, hurrying more

the further we go—our conversations
about the words of which things are made,

stilled now to become just the things
themselves, the purling and the rings

of water reaching out from our casts,
heard now only with our eyes

as I stand in the bow, watching
my fly float high on its hackle

along the grassy bank,
careful not to let my gaze

drift back to where
you would always be,

sitting behind me, a wreath
of cigarette smoke—

the strange feeling you said
you sometimes had, letting

a trout go after all
the concentration of catching it—

more like Mozart
than Wagner, you said,

your good right eye
watching for the rise of a life

your blind left, not too far
downstream, already absorbed

in that dark river light into which
we're constantly rowing.


Dan Gerber

Michigan Quarterly Review

Winter 2017


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